I'm having a lot of problems trying to create a new web design for my father's drum (the musical kind)company. What I would like to do is create a header with the company's logo and a footer containing 3 internal links with the company name and year underneith. For the middle section where the main content will be, I would like that centered so that both the right and left sides are just plain blank when viewed on a wide screen monitor like with on Yahoo, ludwig-drums.com, and pearldrum.com, just to name a few. I would also like to add an external CSS drop down nav. bar in the header with 8 internal links . Now I lerned web development/design in high school but that was 10 years ago and it seems that much has changed since then (or maybe it's I just don't remember that much), so any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
The web development industry has changed massively in the past 10 years, we've got HTML5 and much greater support for CSS from browsers for a start, i.e. no more creating websites from tables!
You're looking to create a static website but you're going to need a firm understanding of HTML and CSS. It's unlikely any PHP will need to be considered here. What if any tools are you using for markup?
As for the Drop Down menu I'd highly consider using Superfish here, it uses a little jQuery but that's nothing special and easy to implement.
I'm assuming from your post you have very little knowledge or experience in HTML and/or CSS. These are fundamental to website design! Check out some online courses/ tutorials, books etc. The web is your oyster!
Starting with the beginning (always worked for me), using fluid design will solve a lot of your concerns about readability as the page will automatically adjust to the viewer/screen settings without having huge blank spaces or a horizontal scrollbar (something that drivew me up the wall).
Lots of good info in the reference section on this site, and searching for html/css tutorials online is bound to bring you something you like. Although I am still pretty green myself in terms of 21st centurey webdesign, I was able to get a workable (not the same as beautiful) result in a short time by using the principle of "less is more". By this, I mean that I first built a site that didn't win any prizes for looks, but it put what I wanted to present to the world very quickly. From there on I set out to improve things. It all depends on your budget, the time you can spend on it, and the need for speed, to determine what works best for you.
Whatever you do, I would always advise to stay away from fixed width.
Setting up a grid 960 is a great way to start a project for me. As to specific stuff you can just google "how to create thisorthat with css" and it should get your going imo.
Are you on Windows or Mac? If you are on a Mac and don't want to do the coding, just use iWeb.
The best way to do this is to draw it out by hand on a piece of paper. Once you do, you will have a bunch of boxes, or the "structure". Then you have to lay them out. All layout design is about boxes and how they relate to one another (with the browser being the biggest box). Some are next to eachother. Some are inside of each other. Some are above each other, etc. Start by googling "css box model".
You should try something like Lynda.com. If you want to spring for a copy of dreamweaver (or get it as a part of Adobe's Creative Cloud), Lynda has some great tutorials on getting started with Dreamweaver that can help you design this thing in a matter of a couple of days.
But overall, it is important to note that when you come to a forum like this, it really helps to have something to show the community so they can help you tweak it or redesign it. It also shows that you have put some work into it, as well.
Thanks to those who replied, but as the OP has never returned in two months, there seems little point in offering further suggestions.